The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O qui tuo Dux martyrum

St. Stephen's Day from the Paris Breviary, 1736

Words:  Jean Baptiste De Santeuil, "Victorinus Santolius," 16301697.
Of the Gallican Church. Canon of St. Victor, Paris.

English Translations
Rightful Prince of Martyrs Thou by Rev. Isaac Williams.
O Captain of the Martyr Host by Father Edward Caswall

Source:  Robert Maude Moorson, A historical companion to Hymns ancient and modern: containing the Greek and Latin; the German, Italian, French, Danish and Welsh hymns; the first lines of the English hymns; the names of all authors and translators; notes and dates (Parker and Co., 1889), pp. 212-213.

O qui tuo, Dux martyrum,
Preefers coronam nomine,
Non de caducis floribus
Tibi coronam nectimus.

Tuo cruenta sanguine
Quam saxa fulgent pulchrius 1
Aptata sacro vertici
Non sic micarent sidera.

Quot facta fronti vulnera,
Tot tela lucis emicant;
Et Angelo monstrat parem
Quod prodlt e vultu jubar.

Tu prima Christo victima,
Vitam rependis victima,
Primusque testis aemulo
Deum fateris funere.

Tu primus ostensam tibi
Maris rubri sulcas viam;
Quot te sequentur martyrum
Quibus praeis exercitus!

Qui natus es de Virgine
Jesu ! Tibi sit gloria,
Cum Patre, cumque Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula.


Louis Coutier Biggs, in his English Hymnology (p. 14), wrote:

For S. Stephen's Day we have the translation of Jean Baptiste Santeul's Paris Breviary hymn, O Qui tuo, dux martyrum, given in 'Hymns Ancient and Modern'

'First of martyrs, thou whose name
Doth thy golden crown proclaim.'

The allusion is here to the meaning of the Greek name Στέφανος a crown. Adam of S. Victor had written similarly in his sequence for S. Stephen's Day :

'Thou by name a Crown impliest;
Meetly then in pangs thou diest
For the Crown of Righteousness!'

and S. Anatolius appears to have the same idea, which is perhaps glanced at in Heber's hymn for this festival, 'The Son of God goes forth to war.'

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O Captain of the Martyr Host

Edward Caswall, Hymns and Poems, pp. 190-190

Hymns and poems, original and translated
By Edward Caswall

Burns, Oates & Co., 1873



O qui tuo dux Martyrum.

O Captain of the Martyr Host!

O peerless in renown!
Not from the fading flowers of earth

Weave we for thee a crown.

The stones that smote thee, in thy blood
Made beauteous and divine,

All in a halo heavenly bright
About thy temples shine.

The scars upon thy sacred brow
Throw beams of glory round;

The splendours of thy bruised face
The very sun confound.

Oh, earliest Victim sacrificed
To thy dear Victim Lord!

Oh, earliest witness to the Faith
Of thy Incarnate God!

Thou to the heavenly Canaan first
Through the Red Sea didst go,

And to the Martyrs' countless host,
Their path of glory show.

Erewhile a servant of the poor,
Now at the Lamb's high Feast,

In blood-empurpled robe array'd,
A welcome nuptial guest!

To Jesus, born of Virgin bright,
Praise with the Father be;

Praise to the Spirit Paraclete,
Through all eternity.


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